The veteran that inspired a local program that has helped hundreds visit national memorials and honor servicemembers throughout history died Sunday.
Arthur Smith served in the Marine Corps from 1942 to 1948. He was 95 years old when he passed away.
His son, David Smith, created the non-profit Honor Flight San Diego (HFSD) in 2010 because of his father’s service.
Its programs fly World War II and Korean War veterans to Washington D.C. to visit and reflect at the memorials dedicated to their service and sacrifice, according to its website.
HFSD is part of the nationwide Honor Flight Network that has more than 130 chapters across the country.
"Arthur Smith was the reason we exist today and the reason we have been able to fly over 1,300 Southern California WWII and Korea War veterans to Washington, D.C.," said Julie Brightwell, who chairs the non-profit. "He will be deeply missed by the entire Honor Flight community."
During World War II, Arthur Smith was assigned to the First Provisional Marine Brigade and was part of the U.S. invasion to take back the Island of Guam, according to Honor Flight San Diego. In a Higgins boat, Smith landed on a beach in Agat, Guam under fire.
When Arthur Smith returned home from combat, he supported youth YMCA and community theater programs and liked to paint.
Decades later, David Smith took his father to Washington D.C. with the Honor Flight Network.
The trip inspired David Smith so much that when he found out there wasn’t a San Diego chapter of the program, he said, “There will be.” He then created the non-profit that is now HFSD.
In lieu of flowers, the Smiths are accepting donations in Arthur Smith’s name for HFSD. Donations can be made on the non-profit’s website.
A public memorial will be held in a few weeks, HFSD said, and Arthur Smith will be put to rest in Michigan.
The next HFSD trip will begin on May 3, involving about 80 veterans on their “Tour of Honor.”